Holger Drachmann
Holger Henrik Herholdt Drachmann (9 October 1846 – 14 January 1908), was a Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 and dramatist. He is an outstanding figure of the Modern Break-Through.

The son of physician A.G. Drachmann, whose father belonged to the German speaking congregation at St. Peter's Church
St. Peter's Church, Copenhagen
St. Peter's Church is the parish church of the German-speaking community in Copenhagen, Denmark. Built as a single-nave church in the mid-15th century, it is the oldest building in central Copenhagen. It is also notable for its extensive complex of sepulchral chapels.-History:St...

, he was born in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. Owing to the early death of his mother, the child was left much to his own devices and developed a fondness for semi-poetical performances, organising his companions in heroic games, in which he himself took such parts as those of Peder Tordenskjold
Peder Tordenskjold
Peter Jansen Wessel Tordenskiold , commonly referred to as Tordenskjold , was a Norwegian nobleman and an eminent naval flag officer in the service of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy. He rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral for his services in the Great Northern War...

 and Niels Juel
Niels Juel
Niels Juel was a Dano–Norwegian admiral. He was the brother of the diplomat Jens Juel.-Biography:Niels Juel was born the son of Erik Juel and Sophie Clausdatter Sehested, both were descendant of Danish nobility, who lived in Jutland where the father had a career as a local functionary and judge...


Holgers woman

Holger was send to Bornholm to learn to paint. Here he met his first wife Vilhelmine Erichsen whith whom he married in 1871 in Gentofte
Gentofte Kommune is a municipality in the Capital Region of Denmark on the east coast of the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark. The municipality covers an area of , and has a total population of 68,913...

. They got one daughter, Eva. In 1874 his marriage ended. He then got himself for a short while involved with a married woman named Polly. She got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. She shortly after broke contact with him.

He met with a young girl in Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 by the name Emmy. They fell in love and got married. They adopted the daughter with Polly and got four more children of their own. In 1887 she became seriously ill, and one of their daughters died in the same year. Perhaps due to the stress he fled into a relation with Amanda Nielsen, (he called her Edith) who became his biggest muse. He would have many muses in his life, but on his deathbed he said that his two biggest muses were Vilhelmine and Edith.

His career

Behind in his studies, he did not enter university until 1865, leaving it in 1866 to become a student at the Academy of Fine Arts. From 1866 to 1870 he learned, under Professor Sørensen, to become a marine painter
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, with some success. In about 1870 he came under the influence of Georg Brandes
Georg Brandes
Georg Morris Cohen Brandes was a Danish critic and scholar who had great influence on Scandinavian and European literature from the 1870s through the turn of the 20th century. He is seen as the theorist behind the "Modern Breakthrough" of Scandinavian culture...

, and, without abandoning art, began to devote most of his time more to literature. At various periods he travelled very extensively in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and his literary career began by his sending letters about his journeys to the Danish newspapers.

After returning home, he settled for some time on the island of Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

, painting seascape
A seascape is a photograph, painting, or other work of art which depicts the sea, in other words an example of marine art. By a backwards development, the word has also come to mean the view of the sea itself, and be applied in planning contexts to geographical locations possessing a good view of...

s. He now issued his earliest volume of poems, Digte (1872), and joined the group of young Radical writers who followed Brandes. Drachmann was unsettled, and still doubted whether his real strength lay in the pencil or in the pen. By this time he had enjoyed a surprising experience of life, especially among sailors, fishermen, students and artists, and the issues of the Franco-German War and the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

 had persuaded him that a new and glorious era was at hand.

His volume of lyrics, Dæmpede Melodier (Muffled Melodies, 1875), proved that Drachmann was a poet with a real vocation, and he began to produce books in prose and verse with great rapidity. Ungt Blod (Young Blood, 1876) contained three realistic stories of contemporary life. But he returned to his true field in his magnificent Sange ved Havet; Venezia (Songs of the Sea; Venice, 1877), and won the passionate admiration of his countrymen by his prose work, with interludes in verse, called Derovre fra grænsen (Over the Frontier there, 1877), a series of impressions made on Drachmann by a visit to the scenes of the war with Germany.

During the succeeding years he visited most of the principal countries of the world, but particularly familiarizing himself, by protracted voyages, with the sea and with the life of man in maritime places. In 1879 he published Ranker og Roser (Tendrils and Roses), amatory lyrics of a very high order of melody, in which he showed a great advance in technical art. To the same period belongs Paa sømands tro og love (On the Faith and Honor of a Sailor, 1878), a volume of short stories in prose.

It was about this time that Drachmann broke with Brandes and the Radicals, and set himself at the head of a sort of nationalist or popular-Conservative movement in Denmark. He continued to celebrate the life of the fishermen and sailors in books, whether in prose or verse, which were the most popular of their day. Paul og Virginie and Lars Kruse (both 1879); Østen for sol og vesten for maane (East of the Sun and West of the Moon, 1880); Puppe og Sommerfugi (Chrysalis and Butterfly, 1882); and Strandby Folk (1883) were among these. At the beginning of the 1890s he again joined the Brandes fraction without giving up his national motives. His many changing sides has often been regarded as opportunism but were probably caused by his eternal enthusiasm and longing for a positive fundament of his art.

In 1882 Drachmann published his fine translation, or paraphrase, of Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS , commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement...

's Don Juan
Don Juan
Don Juan is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra by Tirso de Molina is a play set in the fourteenth century that was published in Spain around 1630...

. In 1885 his romantic play Der var engang (Once upon a Time) had a great success on the boards of the Royal Theatre, Copenhagen, and has remained a classic. His tragedies Volund Smed (Wayland the Smith, 1894) and Brav-karl (1897) established him as the most popular playwright of Denmark. In 1894 he published a volume of fantastic Melodramas in rhymed verse, a collection which contains some of Drachmann's best work.

His novel Med den brede Pensel (With a Broad Brush, 1887) was followed in 1890 by Forskrevet, the history of a young painter, Henrik Gerhard, and his revolt against his bourgeois surroundings. Closely connected to this novel is Den hellige Ild (The Sacred Fire, 1899), in which Drachmann speaks in his own person. There is practically no story in this autobiographical volume, which abounds in lyrical passages. In 1899 he produced his romantic play Gurre; in 1900 a brilliant lyrical drama, Hallfred Vandraadeskjald; and in 1903, Det grønne Haab. He died in Copenhagen and is buried in the sand dunes at Grenen
Grenen, the northmost tip of Jutland, north of the town of Skagen, thereby the northmost point of Denmark. Grenen was given its name for its shape like a tree-branch . The Danish national road 40 passes through Grenen....

, near Skagen
Skagen is a projection of land and a town, with a population of 8,515 , in Region Nordjylland on the northernmost tip of Vendsyssel-Thy, a part of the Jutland peninsula in northern Denmark...


Drachmann is one of the most popular Danish poets of modern time though much of his work is now forgotten. He unites modern rebellionist attitudes and a really romantic view of women and history. His personal appearance often almost overshadowed his literary merits and in many ways he played the role of the "typical" bohemian poet with a turbulent private life. His relationship with various women (his "muses") often made a great scandal but it was the fuel of his inspiration. Especially "Edith", a cabaret singer who was his mistress during the 1890s and inspired much of his best love poetry. His often rhetorical approach to poetry and occasional "wordiness" has led some critics to compare him with Swinburne
Swinburne may refer to:* A place:**Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia**Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus in Kuching, Malaysia**Swinburne Senior Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia...


See an article by Karl Gjellerup in Dansk Biografisk Lexikon vol. iv (Copenhagen, 1890).
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